Marie-Hélène Huet, M. Taylor Pyne Professor of French and Italian and previous chair of the department, is retiring after fourteen years at Princeton.
Marie-Hélène has encouraged generations of students thanks to her brilliant scholarship and wonderful sense of humor, inspiring an enduring love of French literature and culture at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Her courses on eighteenth-century and early-nineteenth-century thought and literature, as well as courses on representations of history are always stimulating successes. Like her publications, her graduate seminars—ranging across topics including critical theory, Rousseau, Diderot, literature and revolution, and the works of Michel Foucault—inevitably prove incisive deliberations upon the state of the field.
In her outstanding and prolific range of publications, Marie-Hélène has produced important works on Jules Verne, the French Revolution, the monstrous in the French Enlightenment imaginary, and, most recently, the culture of disaster. She received the Harry Levin prize in comparative literature for her book Monstrous Imagination, published by Harvard University Press in 1993. Her articles have appeared in French and American journals including Littérature, Revue des Sciences Humaines, Critical Inquiry, Representations, Diacritics, and the Yale French Review. She has also established the critical edition of Verne’s Ile mystérieuse for its prestigious Pléiade collection. Her fascinating and highly original books are at once erudite, elegant, and exciting interventions in the study of the cultural, political, and philosophical legacy of the Enlightenment.
Born in France, Marie-Hélène received her doctorate from the University of Bordeaux. She taught at the University of California– Berkeley from 1968 to 1985, chairing the French department from 1982 to 1985. Subsequently, she taught at Amherst College from 1985 to 1995. In addition, she has held visiting positions at the University of Colorado–Boulder and the University of Virginia. From 1996 to 1999, Marie-Hélène was the Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of French at the University of Michigan.
Among her many honors, Marie-Hélène Huet has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Residential Fellowship at Bellagio. She was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Virginia in 1993. In 2010, she was awarded the title of Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government for her contributions to culture and the arts. Marie-Hélène’s good cheer, collegiality, and sense of humor will be sorely missed in the department. Together with her husband, Jay Caplan, we wish them many joyous and productive years to come.